Finding Who You Are In Agriculture
By Andrew Anderson
When I first stepped foot on the University of Wyoming campus, my homesick freshman self had two goals in mind: To graduate with a degree in agriculture business management and to get back home to my family’s irrigation business to work.
But, after three years here, two years with the Ag Ambassadors and many other personal experiences from this time, I’ve found learning about the different parts of agriculture has led me to feel more curious, and not quite ready to just stop at irrigation or crop life.
These experiences I’ve had the last three years have led me to realize in order to make my future career and life successful in agriculture, it’s crucial I not only know the business side of things, but the many other parts of ag as well.
My family has been involved in agriculture since the day I was born, but not in the way you’d think. First, I didn’t grow up on a farm or ranch. I grew up in the middle of Wray, Colo., a small town located in the beautiful northeastern plains.
My father works with my grandfather in our family-owned center-pivot irrigation business, and my mother is a human resources manager for Smithfield in Yuma County. Both are amazing agricultural careers.
So no, I didn’t grow up going to brandings and riding horses across the plains like a cowboy, or plowing fields in a tractor. I grew up working hard in cornfields on center-pivots for my family business to help keep farmers growing.
Because of this, over the last few months the question in my mind grew: Am I really a part of agriculture if I’m not a farmer or rancher like the rest of the world portrays you to be when you say you’re involved in ag? If I don’t live out in the country, or if I’ve never had the opportunity to work with livestock or crops, am I still worth as much to ag as someone who does?
The answer I’ve found quite recently is yes, you still are. Just because you didn’t grow up with these experiences doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the family of agriculture, or you should think of yourself any less.
The world of agriculture needs any and all types of jobs and people in order for it to work right. Truck drivers, accountants, safety managers, information technology professionals and many more types of different jobs are needed in ag, even if they aren’t traditional. It’s okay to realize you don’t have to raise crops or livestock to help feed the world.
I’m proud to be going back home to my family business to become the third-generation after I graduate from the University of Wyoming – it’s an opportunity not many people get. And, who knows, perhaps someday I’ll be involved in agriculture in different ways as well. Only the future can tell.
With agriculture being such a diverse field, almost anyone can be a part of it and not be afraid because they didn’t come from a traditional ranching or farming background. Always be open to new experiences and to learn new things, take pride in whatever you do to help get food on the table, and be happy in knowing you’re part of the best job field in the world.
Andrew Anderson is an Ag Ambassador for the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.